Bees, Bees, Bees ….they’re alive!

I’m always a little apprehensive at this time of year; will the bees have survived? Did they have enough stores? Have they been able to maintain colony temperature? Did the woodpeckers get a tasty meal? Can the bees cope with any varroa load? Has anything knocked/dismantled the hives? And the list goes on… This year my apprehension was even greater as it’s our first year overwintering in horizontal Top Bar Hives (hTBH’s), so the parameters of ‘survivability’ were even vaguer than usual.

I worry when it’s warm the bees will be more active and use stores quickly and when it’s cold they’ll freeze or not be able to access their stores easily. SO, it was a huge relief to check the three hTBH’s and one National to find bees alive in all of them. All were looking light on stores though so they got a lump of sugar fondant to be going on with. Not that surprising considering three out of four were swarms we hived late in the summer.  I love having a glass viewing panel – so reassuring.


There was quite a collection of dead bees inside the hTBH’s, whether they will be cleaned out in warmer weather by the bees themselves or whether we will have to get a brush and pan out I don’t yet know. Unfortunately a woodpecker had paid a visit to one of the hives but thankfully the damage was not enough to compromise the integrity of the nest cavity. Although a little repair work around the entrance will be needed in spring. All of our hives in known woodpecker areas are now netted. Note to self: ensure hives are netted earlier next year…